City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
City of Miracles is everything I’ve come to expect from Robert Jackson Bennett–dark, entertaining, moving and altogether human in a way that most fantasy writing never achieves. A must-read unique story in a genre often defined by dogmatic tropes. I can’t wait for Bennett’s next project.
Every once and a while I read a book that I love but have trouble picking one thing (or even a few things) that make it great. City of Miracles, the third installment of Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities series fits that. It’s exceptionally well written, has a great story and a great universe. It’s a great read, builds intelligently builds on the previous two books while still managing to feel distinct and almost standalone. You could read City of Miracles without the other two and still get a great story, but the previous two books add a depth and richness to the story that you’d be missing out on otherwise.
City of Miracles takes place approximately 10 years after the events of the previous book and follows the final-esque journey of Sigrud je Harkvaldsson (I love the name, but it sounds like I’m choking when I try to say it). It’s hard to talk much about this story without ruining it, but I can say it was a satisfying exploration of Sigrud. There’s a bit of a blast from a past from a perfectly forgettable character from the previous books that adds a trans-book depth that I wasn’t expecting to find. There’s also a twist that I never saw coming. That once it was revealed made perfect sense, but I was completely blind to it. It’s not often that a story genuinely surprises me, but Bennett seems to do it with startling regularity.
Throughout the 3 books, Bennett creates a world that feels so much like our own, but still fantastical. It’s dark, unforgiving, rife with racial strife and past-sins-never-forgotten and a world that’s quickly losing it’s mystery to the inexorable march of progress. While the first book was fairly traditional to fantasy, the second and third books felt positively steampunk–believable and very much the way I imagined it happening in our world.
Bennett has created one of my favorite series to date with the Divine Cities, and City of Blades continues the trend. 5 out of 5 stars, and a plea to Bennett to continue the story.